At last, a convincing film about monks.
The film Of Gods and Men tells the true story of a community of French Cistercian monks in Algeria – and how seven of them died there in 1996. It gives a truer picture of life in a monastery than the documentaries that have appeared in the last decade or so, which feature actual monks or nuns. However sincere the intentions of all parties, such films strike me as artificial and self-conscious – hardly surprising, as most members of religious orders are not used to being filmed and interviewers don’t know the right questions to ask. Of Gods and Men doesn’t suffer from the sort of visual cliché that causes the camera to linger over the beauty of rain dripping on leaves. It simplifies a complex political story and, with wonderful acting, shows the strains of community life and the courage of the men who decide to stay in a...
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